Armenian communities worldwide marked the 23rd anniversary of the brutal pogroms against the Armenian population of Azerbaijan, which was sparked by violent murders and deportations on February 28, 1998 in the industrial city of Sumgait.
Below are synopses of events from Europe, to the Middle East to the Commonwealth of Independent States in alphabetical order provided by Armenia’s Foreign Ministry:
Requiem services were held Sunday at the Forty Martyrs, St. Mary’s, St. Gregory the Illuminators, and St. George churches in this heavily Armenian-populated city in memory of the victims of the Sumgait pogroms. Armenia’s Consul General to Aleppo, Ashot Manoukyan attended the solemn ceremonies.
At the Armenian Cathedral in Antelias, His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilcia Sunday presided over a requiem Mass in memory of the victims of the Sumgait pogroms.
At an event in the hall of the Cathedral, speeches were made by the Catholicos, Armenia’s Ambassador to Lebanon, Ashot Kocharian and the chairman of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Central Committee of Artsakh Davit Ishkhanian.
The speakers condemned the Azeri government for executing the pogroms and the current Baku authorities for continuing the threats and war rhetoric against Armenians. They also condemned the international community for remaining silent and allowing the crime to go unpunished.
Ministers, government officials, representatives from all community organizations attended the vigil and requiem.
Armenians in German gathered at Berlin’s Humboldt University, from where they marched to the Brandenburg Gates, where a demonstration was held condemning the Azeri crimes against Armenians. Organizers distributed flyers and information to passers-by.
The crowd then proceeded to Berlin’s St. Lucien Church, where the Primate of Germany, Archbishop Garegin Bekchyan, officiated a Requiem Mass in memory of the victims of the Sumgait pogroms. Thereafter, at a political rally leaders of the German-Armenian community addressed the crowd. Among them was the chairman of the German-Armenian Council, Azad Ordoukanian, the representative of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic in Germany, Harutiun Grigoryan, chairman of the Berlin Armenian Church and Educational Association, Bedros Dikijian and Armenia’s Ambassador to Germany, Armen Martirosyan.
German Academicians, religious leaders and professors were among participants of the event.
Hundreds of Argentinean-Armenian community members marched to the recently-opened Azeri Embassy in a protest organized by youth organizations. The protesters condemned the pogroms of Sumgait and Baku that were committed by the Azeri populations with the permission and order of their government.
The hundreds of Armenians that gathered waved the flags of Armenia, the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and Argentina urged the Azeri ambassador to take responsibility for the pogroms and to end Baku’s continued military rhetoric, which threatens the peaceful resolution of the Karabakh conflict.
In the Russian capital, the hundreds of Armenian community members gathered at the Sourp Harutiun church grounds, where wreaths were laid at the monument commemorating the victims of the Sumgait Pogroms.
At a rally in the same venue, Armenia’s Ambassador to Russia, Oleg Yessayan, addressed the crowd. Also present were Prime Minister of the Nargono-Karabakh Republic Ara Harutunian, as well as staff and members of Armenia’s diplomatic corps in Moscow.
On Sunday, at the French capital’s St. John the Baptist church, as well as in all Armenian-populated regions across France, requiem services were held in memory of the victims of the Sumgait Massacres. In Paris, following the religious service, community members marched alongside the river Seine to the Yerevan Gardens and placed wreaths at the monument dedicated to Gomidas.
On Monday, in Paris’ 9th district, a capacity crowd filled the neighborhood hall at a rally organized by the French-Armenian Organizational Coordinating Council, whose co-chairmen Ara Toranian and Mourad Papazian addressed the gathering.
Present at the event were members of the French National Assembly, the Paris City Council and other French officials. Speaking at the event were Armenia’s Ambassador to France, Vigen Chitedjyan, Nagorno-Karabakh Republic representative to France, Hovhannes Gevorkyan, Armenian National Committee of France Executive Director, Hratch Varjabedian and the chairman of the French-Armenian National Assembly, Alexi Govchyan.
At the conclusion of the event, an appeal to the French government was reach and approved, through which the community urged the French government to recognize the right to self-determination of the people of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.
Community members gathered at the St. Catherine Armenian church for a requiem Mass, followed by a rally at the adjacent Sunday school auditorium on Sunday. A demonstration followed on the grounds of the church. Armenia’s Consul General to St. Petersburg, Vartan Hakobyan addressed the crowd.